Posts Tagged ‘nonprofit culture’

[Podcast] Kathie Sorensen on culture: optimizing interactions and dispensing with outdated practices

“I have a foundational belief that business results start with culture and your people,” said, Douglas Conant, leadership consultant and former CEO of Campbell’s Soup Company. Conant speaks from direct experience since he’s credited with having reversed Campbell’s decline in market value, improved the company’s financial profile and enhanced its diversity and inclusion practices during 2001-2011.

These seismic changes didn’t happen overnight. They were the result of Conant’s careful cultivation of culture and investment in his people. Nonprofit executives have an equal, if not greater, stake than business leaders in putting culture and people first especially since many professionals are drawn to our organizations for a stronger connection to collective purpose and coworkers who share their passion.

We recently had a conversation with Kathie Sorensen, the coauthor of Culture Eats Strategy for Lunch, to talk about what helps organizations build better cultures. In Culture Eats, she and her coauthor, Curt Coffman, talk about three domains of culture: MicroCulture, BridgeCulture and MacroCulture.

In each domain, they explain how leaders, managers and employees can 1) optimize their interactions to improve culture and 2) dispense with outdated practices that undermine outcomes and the alignment with your purpose.

We asked Kathy Sorensen to break down these two topics further in our questions below:

CausePlanet: Can you briefly tell everyone about the micro, bridge and macro domains?

Kathie Sorensen – Micro, Bridge & Macro Domains

CausePlanet: What are some specific examples of optimizing your interactions to cultivate a culture that ensures you can honor your strategy?

Kathie Sorensen – Optimizing interactions

CausePlanet: What are some of the outdated practices that undermine culture outcomes and alignment with purpose?

Kathie Sorensen – Outdated practices

CausePlanet: Can you talk about an example where you observed an organization that applied some of your proven practices and how that translated into better alignment with purpose?

Kathie Sorensen – Example

Read more books and summaries about this topic:

Culture Eats Strategy for Lunch

TouchPoints: Creating Powerful Leadership Connections in the Smallest of Moments

The Nonprofit Organizational Culture Guide

Fired Up or Burned Out: Reignite Your Team…

Six Secrets of Change: What the Best Leaders Do…

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[Podcast] Avoid burnout by getting your people connected

I love it when the planets align. I was about to hold a podcast with Connection Culture author, Michael Stallard, when I read an article in Fast Company titled, “The Top Three Nonprofit Jobs of the Future.” One of those jobs is Chief Culture Officer. It’s been said that you have a culture whether you cultivate one or not. The question is, are you going to be a leader who carefully cultivates one or leaves it up to chance?

When I had my conversation with Stallard last week, I asked him why nonprofit CEOs need to prioritize culture. My guess was competitive advantage and quality of work life but, of course, he had a much more interesting answer.

Join me in listening to this answer and others about how to avoid burnout in your ranks, the signs of a healthy culture, examples of connected cultures and where to find more than 100 ways to connect employees:

CausePlanet: What are the benefits of a connection culture? In other words, why should a nonprofit CEO care if their people are connected to one another?

Benefits of a Connection Culture

CausePlanet: How can the ideas in your book be applied specifically to the issue of nonprofit burnout?

How Do CEOs Neutralize Burnout?

CausePlanet: How can nonprofit executives foster connection within their organizations?

What Elements Are Necessary for Connection?

Get a free copy of 100 Ways to Connect and Stallard’s “Connect to Thrive” email newsletter.

CausePlanet: Can you tell us about a connected culture you observed and appreciated?

Connection Culture Example

CausePlanet: Tell us more about the Connection Culture!

More About the Book

Learn more about Michael Stallard’s first book, Fired Up or Burned Out and our summary.

More titles and summaries in this genre:

The Nonprofit Organizational Culture Guide: Revealing the Hidden Truths that Impact Performance

Culture Eats Strategy for Lunch: The Secret of Extraordinary Results Igniting the Passion Within

Winning with a Culture of Recognition

Image credits: ATD,

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How to make culture your nonprofit advantage

Culture Eats Strategy for Lunch is about the fragile balance between two forces on your organization—rational and emotional. Both are necessary to create a culture at every level of your organization.

Culture Eats authors Coffman and Sorensen argue that our strategies and tactics can either take a bite out of our culture or ignite the passion within it. The authors claim that as leaders, managers and employees, we must actively own the cultures to which we belong to draw out the best climate that is conducive to our business imperatives.

The reality about culture

Every organization has a culture, whether you cultivate it or not. The question is will you nurture your culture so it becomes your competitive advantage or choose to ignore it and hope for the best? Many nonprofits hope their noble missions will have a halo effect on their cultures.

The reality is nonprofits may need culture management more than most due to workplace challenges such as fewer resources for programming budgets, perks and pay. Coffman and Sorensen argue that culture is the X Factor when it comes to pushing your competitive advantage, delivering on your brand and ensuring strategies are fulfilled. The advantage nonprofits do have is plenty of purpose, which the authors explain is a critical ingredient for building a strong culture.

Culture questions asked and answered

We asked Curt Coffman and Kathie Sorensen about their unique idea of a Cultural P&L and about how leaders can have an impact on MicroCulture:

CausePlanet: Curt and Kathie, thank you for writing this book that focuses on culture as a means to success and competitive advantage. How did you come up with the idea of Cultural P&L (Profit and Loss)? What exactly does it involve?

Coffman and Sorensen: Every effective business leader knows the value of the P&L. Without it, you would be “guessing” about the outcomes that are critical to your business. The idea of a Cultural P&L is to provide the same kind of attentiveness for what has historically been hard to assess–the culture itself. Rather than seeing culture or even employee engagement as a once-a-year “outcome,” we see culture as evolving throughout the year and requiring a relentless interest to manage it effectively.

The three levels of culture, MacroCulture, MicroCulture and Bridge, are all a part of the P&L and help us understand the power of attraction within the culture and the degree of productive energy and connections around our line-of-sight. While the P&L will take the shape of the organization, the vigilance practiced helps ensure that the culture aligns with the brand and creates competitive advantage.

CausePlanet: You discuss at great length how the individual, not the leadership, in the MicroCulture is responsible for the culture. How can leaders then steer the culture in the right direction and motivate individuals to create a positive culture?

Coffman and Sorensen: Leaders can’t mandate culture, but they can encourage it through their active interest in their people’s perspectives, talents, ideas and needs. What leaders pay attention to creates focus in the larger organization. Asking about collaboration, partnership and new ideas means that leaders can bring about more of those strengths.

Great leaders ask about the elements of culture they want to see more of. The leader controls three things in making culture a competitive advantage: 1) brand, 2) future and 3) strategy. But, leaders can take a scalpel to culture if their role isn’t well defined.

MicroCulture is the most local team that shares similar goals and focus. The onus of culture is really activated or squashed at this level. The role of the micro level is to activate and sustain productive energy in one another. This is where execution, quality and true productivity lie.

If you’re tired of looking at financials, give the Cultural P&L a try. Coffman and Sorensen assure you that a consistent focus on culture will soon become your best insurance for a solid future.

See also:

Culture Eats Strategy for Lunch: The Secret of Extraordinary Results Igniting the Passion Within

Fired Up or Burned Out: How to Reignite Your Team’s Passion, Creativity and Productivity

Liquid Leadership: From Woodstock to Wikipedia: Multigenerational Management Ideas That Are Changing the Way We Run Things

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